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Stevenson Ousts Dokic at Qualifying
Tuesday, 20 June, 2006
The last time that Alexandra Stevenson met Jelena Dokic on a grass court, it was in the quarter-finals of the 1999 Wimbledon Championships. While the setting of this qualifying match at the Bank of England Sports Ground at Roehampton was less illustrious than that of the All England Club, this first round qualifying match was a keenly-fought contest, with Stevenson running out the eventual winner in three sets.
While both Stevenson and Dokic are two players on the comeback trail, it was Stevenson - a former Wimbledon semi-finalist in 1999 – who proved that she has recovered from the shoulder injury which has hampered her game for the past 22 months.
The 25-year-old American, currently ranked 143, recovered well from the loss of a tight first set to defeat another player who is also on the comeback trail, namely Jelena Dokic, 4-6, 7-6 (6-4), 6-2 in an encounter reminiscent of the quarter-final battle the two had in 1999. On that day, Stevenson also emerged the winner.
In the interim the two have suffered from various ailments and/or personal problems, but both are keen to regain a foothold back in the top levels of the game.
Stevenson, who suffered back problems during the two-hour, 12-minute encounter for which she took a medical time-out and twice received physio treatment at changeovers, was all smiles at the end of the match, a match she described as 'tough' but the fact that she had drawn the Australian Dokic, 23, in the first round had not phased her.
She was delighted at having come through unscathed. "I was out for two years with my shoulder problem," she revealed. "I had surgery for it and now it is perfectly repaired."
The initial injury came about through her service action but she has not changed her action, but instead reduced its power.
In the match she felt her back tighten midway through the first set and knew what action she required the physio to take when she called for her. The treatment worked a treat and as the wind picked up and her opponent's game slowly disintegrated, Stevenson took command.
For the best part of 90-minutes, Dokic was in control with her flat drives and strong serving but when she failed to serve out for the match at 5-3 when she delivered three double faults, the match became tense. That tension was also evident in the subsequent tie break where again, two more double faults when trailing 4-5, handed the second set to the American.
With Stevenson in the ascendancy, Dokic, who is currently ranked 681, struggled to match the power game of her higher ranked opponent who was now reveling in the windy conditions. "That suited me," Stevenson said. "I've practised for it knowing that it gets windy here in England. Her game is one-dimensional and it collapsed with the wind. She was playing well at the beginning and I was surprised by it but I've got over my first hurdle – two more and then the seven at Wimbledon."
Written by Henry Wancke
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